The U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)
Expanding Job Outsourcing and Corporate Attacks on Our Laws
The U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is a prospective deal that has been under negotiation since 2008. At its core are the investor outsourcing protections that were also at the heart of the of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which President Trump says he vehemently opposes. But the Trump administration has refused to end China BIT negotiations.
The China BIT would make it easier for multinational corporations to outsource more American jobs to China. It includes special investor protections for U.S. corporations that would make it cheaper and less risky to relocate production to China, where wages are low and independent unions are non-existent.
The China BIT also includes the corporate tribunals that were a leading reason for bipartisan opposition to the TPP. This tribunal system, formally known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), would allow Chinese corporations operating in the United States to demand unlimited U.S. taxpayer compensation for U.S. laws and policies that claim violate their new treaty rights. The deal would grant new rights to Chinese multinational corporations to bypass domestic courts and directly “sue” the U.S. government before a panel of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can award the corporations unlimited sums to be paid by America's taxpayers, including for the loss of expected future profits. These corporations need only convince the lawyers that a U.S. law or safety regulation that we rely on for a clean environment, essential services, and healthy communities violates their new treaty rights. These decisions are not subject to outside appeal and the amount they can order taxpayers to give corporations has no limit.
President Trump — who promised voters that he would fix our broken trade policy, particularly with China — has conspicuously not announced U.S. withdrawal from the China BIT negotiations. Notably, Trump’s Cabinet
If concluded, the China BIT would be a dangerous expansion of corporate power, threatening consumers, workers and the environment. That’s why the Citizens Trade Campaign — a coalition of environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and other civil society groups representing 12 million members — has called for an end to negotiations.
Public Citizen Factsheets, Reports & Memos
- November 2, 2017: Press Memo: Asia Trip Spotlights Chasm Between Trump Campaign Rhetoric on Trade and Action, Raising Political Stakes for Meaningful Deliverables (PDF)
- March 7, 2017: U.S. China BIT Factsheet
Public Citizen Press Releases & Statements
- January 23, 2017: President Trump’s Executive Orders Formally Bury TPP’s Corpse, but What About TTIP, TISA, China BIT? President Trump’s Executive Orders Formally Bury TPP’s Corpse, but What About TTIP, TISA, China BIT?
- January 19, 2017: The paradoxes and pitfalls of Trump's trade agenda.
- Jul. 10, 2014: Press Release: Proposed U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty Would Expose U.S. Laws to Extrajudicial Attacks by Chinese Corporations Operating Here, Incentivize More Offshoring of American Jobs.
Civil Society Organizations Speak Out
- January 13: Press Release: Citizens Trade Campaign Outlines Priority NAFTA Changes, and Withdrawal from China BIT, in Letter to Trump. Letter available here.
- September 7: 220+ Law and Economics Professors Urge Congress to Reject the TPP, China BIT and Other Prospective Deals that Include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).